Monday, September 24, 2012

FTW - Church Key First One's Free @ The Pinhook, The Human Eyes @ kINGS, and Who Not to Miss at Carrboro Music Fest

name Tin Can Sailor performing at Motorco Garage on Thursday Aug 30th.

California Wives, Stars, Diamond Rings @ Cat's Cradle Wednesday 9/26
The big sound of California Wives' chiming indie guitar and smooth vocal harmonies should shine its brightest on the big stage at Cat's Cradle Wednesday night. This Chicago band has earned plenty of press since they started touring heavy last year. Wednesday they will take a shot at engaging the home crowd with immersible indie pop.

Farewell Blowout and Potluck @ The Cave Friday 9/28 5:00 PM
Being present when history occurs is an endearing opportunity for anyone who seeks a strong relationship with the local music culture. Rarely do we have a chance to make plans to attend history, but you can put it on your calendar right now. Current owner Mouse celebrates his last day at The Cave, passing the torch to the Slims team. The festivities kick off at 5:00 PM with a potluck. Music begins at 7:30 PM featuring round-robin style performances by Taz Halloween, Mark Simonsen, and Billy Sugarfix. 5:00 PM/pass the hat

The Human Eyes, Heads on Sticks @ Kings Friday 9/28
The Human Eyes strikes chords of retro pop and avant-garde electronica simultaneously. Their May 2012 album Guiding Eyes For The Blind is a confident envoy into the shimmer and shine that made "synthesizer" a buzz word in the eighties. Heads on Sticks primes from the same pump and blends in a bit of funk. 9:00 pm/$5

Frontier Ruckus, Magnolia Collective @ Local 506 Saturday 9/29
This is a Cat's Cradle presents billing at Local 506 and will be a honey of a roots rocker. Both bands blend Americana and indie to form an excitable brand of Southern rock. Local 506 and Cat's Cradle promoters strive to be matchmakers between locals and touring bands, and this billing has potential to go all the way. Doors at 8 PM/$10

Mount Carmel, Effingham @ Local 506 Monday 10/1
Mount Carmel is on tour out of Columbus, Ohio and hell bent to bring their surly take on blues rock to the indie underground. Next Monday the trio plugs in and rips through their riff drenched anthems in Chapel Hill. Durham indie folk-rock band Effingham opens with their patented high energy, short duration set of story teller rock. doors at 8:30 PM/$9

Church Key Presents Wood Ear, Some Army @ The Pinhook Saturday 10/6
This is another installment of Church Key Records highly successful "Churchkey Presents First One's Free" music series which occurs the first Saturday of the month at The Pinhook in Durham, is free, and has presented fantastic talent on stage since the series kicked off in June. Some Army, having secured their place in the hearts of the local scene with their sweet soft rock indie, has been quite ambassadorial lately...on the road promoting their sound outwardly. Wood Ear are masters of dark Americana sound scapes and could single handedly keep the spirit of rock and roll country from dissipating from the collective minds of the local culture, if it ever came to that. 10 PM, Free

Sunday 9/30 is the Carrboro Music Festival which is one of our last great all-play festivals featuring local-only bands. Its a feel good event for the community and musicians alike with a day of trans-Carrboro performances. SCNP selects from a large list and makes a few recommendations:

Rachel Kiel 1:00 Music Loft
Kiel's 2009 album Table Manners didn't reach the heights that it should have, as evidence by the fact that she isn't in Nashville drawing royalty checks from "Lights On" and negotiating big things with big labels. We'll selfishly keep her big talent to ourselves on Sunday.

Onward Soldiers 4:00 Milltown
Wilmington natives that have been given a key to our house and a permanent invite to come up and stay, Onward Soldiers are a favorite guest. Southern rock meets indie with distinctive vocals and well thought out guitar arrangements.

Saints Apollo 5:00 Southern Rail (Front Porch)
one of the best new harmony driven acoustic acts this year has to offer. Sweet airy songs with a beautiful mingle of voices and softly rendered keys and strings.

Morning Brigade 5:00 Music Loft
Fresh, clean, exciting, hooky...there is plenty to adore in Morning Brigade. Their music is a well rounded wall of sound with a gritty yet refined lead vocal.

Tow3rs 5:00 Milltown
Tow3rs continues to create unique and passionate electronic pop that reaches beyond the boundaries of the genre. Tow3rs sound scapes build more than just colorful rhythms, mystique is generated somewhere within the haze. Fun to listen to, fun to watch.

Magnolia Collective 6:00 Milltown
Carrboro darlings and favorites of SCNP, it's no secret why this band's raucous folk rocking charisma makes our list twice...MagCo is a performance that should never be missed.

Battlestar Canada 6:15 2nd Wind Sports Saloon
Street smart eclectic folk pop glorifying pulp-ish stories of urban decay. This Durham two piece brings a full on electronic wall of sound with the help of synth and loops.

Tin Can Sailor 7:30 Cat's Cradle
Tin Can Sailor is a sleeping giant of indie rock potential. A couple years in to being a band, but just now coming of age with focus and direction on tight arrangements and mind engaging lyrics. Their small cult following could and should multiply on Sunday as they lay it down at a prime time on a prime stage.

The Pinkerton Raid 8:00 Jessee's Coffee and Bar
With energy still sizzling from their east coast tour, this Durham three piece will plug in and continue to cook up their witty brand of heavy pop.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Album Review - Beloved Binge: Pockets

Beloved Binge Pockets front

On Pockets, Beloved Binge displays a matured creativity which rends quirky lyrics and unlikely harmonies into genuine emotion, and they find an electrified zeal in the common space between the poles of pop and rock. The most colorful of these movements is the parade of genres that weave in and out of songs like Shriners on mini bikes. Mix and match arrangements high step with a confidence conjurable by only the most devotedly free minds. 80's inspired joy synth, Spanish style classical guitar, industrial metal, new wave, and indie jangle aren't only found on the same album together, they are throwing candy in the same songs. But the diverse range of genres aren't the only opposites that are found marching harmoniously here, there is a marvelous attraction between the two vocals. The fragile confidence of Eleni Vlachos' girlish squeal locks on and strides the album in a defiant harmony with Rob Beloved's graveled and charismatic dead-pan baritone. Yes, on Pockets, the opposing vocal styles and impossible genre match ups win because they succeed in occupying the same space while offering mutual respect, as if Cyndi Lauper and Iggy Pop romanced over an album without trying to change one another.

The fundamental abilities that allow this duo to compassionately mingle unlikes are found in their lifestyle. Rob Beloved and Eleni Vlachos embody warm old word bohemianism. It’s an immaculate strangeness that finds comfort in the gathering of all things that contrast. These habits direct their music toward extremes and then enjoy the curious juxtapositions once connected. It’s as if parts and pieces of songs were held up to one another on their hangers and stared at in the mirror...only those which didn't match were combined. These themes play out from front to back of Pockets and offer a dramatic window into the creativity of Beloved Binge.

Applauding the diversity of style and genre doesn't do justice to the aesthetic of the sound however and it’s most important to note that the result of all these mash up's is a fun pop record that delivers hook after singable hook. The mutual respect between pop and rock can only happen because both sides are at their best here. Vlachos owns pop and has its rhythm and melody gleaming beautifully. Beloved is a rocker and his arrangements on the six string are complex, interesting, and deft. For a duo of writers to reach so far into their soul and return with the truest elements of their persona and then form them into defendable pop music places Pockets close to self-actualization for Beloved Binge, and close to perfect for all of those standing on the sidewalk dazzled as it parades by. --Carrboro Ninja

The Pockets parade pulls up to The Pinhook at 117 W. Main St in Durham on Saturday Sept 22, 2012 for a record release party, which is triple billed with record releases from Billy Sugarfix, whose EP Carousel offers smooth, chiming, vintage instrumentals accentuated by charismatic baritone vocals...and (E)O(T) from Ellertronic, a lesson in electronic ambient 8-bit pop from local folk heroes Bonnie Pivacek (Sequoya) and David Zielinski (All Your Science). Additional theatrics will be performed in the form of improv comedy. This description was scraped from the New Town Drunks who offer their guitar player Roberto Confressi as one of the actors; "During the Beloved Binge set, there will be several short improv acts based the 70's show Three's Company."

Beloved Binge Pockets back

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Show Review: Arborea With Mariee Sioux and Sarah Shook

name Arborea

September 5, 2012
Nightlight, Chapel Hill, NC

By Tommy Kurosawa

The shared experience of a live music show is something long past. The same is true for a random trip to the local multiplex on a saturday afternoon. With the advent of internet -- film and music at our fingertips, Pirate Bay and the like -- well, we can find anything our "hip" friend tells us to download and devour. The problem is the lack of effort it took to find the diamond in the dust. Let's face it, if it rained Van Gogh's every morning, that walk through the Louvre wouldn't be so precious.

CUT TO: A child pointing at the wall of the museum nonchalantly mutters, "Mommy, one of those fell in the backyard yesterday" as others shuffle past the Monet.

But occasionally, still, we stumble into the arena blindly. Not because it was hyped up by some local promoter. Not because the "cool kid" with no musical talent down the street championed it. No, simply because, it was a Wednesday night in Chapel Hill and you had nothing to lose.

Sarah Shook took the stage first with her haunting take on American-ized ballads. I have seen her with a full band before (Sarah Shook and The Devil), gushing the desperation of Hank Williams and bleeding the sharpness of Wanda Jackson. However, solo, Shook was a lullaby in waiting -- smart songs, soulfully stripped down to the bone -- all while coddling a large, hollow bodied guitar.

Mariee Sioux was second. This is where Shook's subtle genius became palpable, for without her as an opener, Sioux's entry into the foray would have seemed less grande. With primal and delicate lyrics floating over Joan Baez-esque finger picking, Sioux hypnotized the crowd. There were songs of blood and flowers and teeth. There were songs where verses dissipated into choruses -- maybe -- or perhaps there was no chorus at all (you lost track while the siren whispered something about "tongues").

But Arborea was the headliner. Now, after the openers' songs had faded into the walls. Now, after the crowd had thought better of the spell they had been seduced by earlier, a new magic filled the space. Arborea's primitive banjo coupled with Robert-Johnson-pact-made-with-the-devil electric guitar, fuzz wailing over the sweetness of Shanti's Bathsheeba-esque vocals, now, this is what we had stumbled into: like staring at the taken woman, beautiful, and bathing upon the roof.

Most of us sat silent. Oh, we laughed at the banter in between -- and the technical problems. And a few drunks chattered in and out during the set. But the most of us listened spellbound.

We were haunted by the sound. We were in love with the moment. We were amazed that these things can still happen.

- -


Mariee Sioux at Nightlight in Chapel Hill, NC Pictured Above: Mariee Sioux at Nightlight in Chapel Hill, NC on September 5th, 2012.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prevue: Anna Rose Beck, Rachel Kiel, Darien Crossley at Cafe Driade Friday July 27th


Beginning with dorm room YouTube videos that caught the eye of local promoters, Anna Rose Beck was hastily ushered onto the local folk stage. While still quite raw and uncut, Beck’s early performances trialed style and composure. Her solo act became a duo with a cellist, soon percussion was invited in. Successes with mixing more hands in the music eventually lead to a sprawling six person folk rock outfit with a proper forty-five minute set built for the club circuit. Most of us following Beck at that time hoped to be dazzled by a surprise arrangement of instruments and musicians on any given night and the anticipation of who would be on stage was half of the entertainment. It was a performance of changes and for those who seek folk music for the appreciation of the art, Beck was unknowingly providing a rare opportunity to watch it move and see where it went.

The performance continues. With influences still gathering and self-image as a songwriter half drawn, Beck's performances are intimate...vulnerable. Gently plucking an acoustic guitar and simmering through lines of heart broken joy, her eyes invite both reflections of the past and dreams of what may lie ahead. Imagining once again how playing it differently will feel, Beck invites us back to her beginnings…solo, with a guitar and a story.

The show is tomorrow, Friday July 27th at Cafe Driade in Chapel Hill, a quaint and grassy little candle lit back yard dining experience perfectly suited for sipping fine wine and enjoying a strummed guitar. The show promotes as "three of North Carolina's young songwriters" and Beck joins Rachel Kiel and Darien Crossley in its billing.

Chapel Hill native Rachel Kiel adds a full measure of spunk to her album of classically derived folk rock. Drawing from a personal diary, she writes with courage and sings with confidence. Her hit "Lights On" spans time and distance being equally suitable for early eighties post-disco feme punk or polished nineties indie, and either can be found drafting somewhere between Nashville and New York.

Darien Crossley travels from Asheville, NC to join the line-up and perfectly complements the evening with her velvet voice and even softer falsettos. Crossley may also be welcomed to Chapel Hill as a reminder that those among us who appreciate the beauty of our home grown folk music are well served to keep an ear in the direction of the mountains also. --Carrboro Ninja

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

FTW - The Cribs @ Motorco - Magnolia Collective @ 506


The Cribs @ Motorco Friday 6/8
The dazzling breadth of Motorco's main stage will hold one of the indy rock's most under valued bands Friday night as Yorkshire's The Cribs play Durham. By sheer will power alone The Cribs have maintained their indy street cred amidst a series of albums which are so pop singed and mass appeal ready that lessor bands would have succumbed to pressure and sold out mainstream long ago (see KoL). Durham tips a hat to that. The Cribs are touring in support of their most recent effort In the Belly of the Brazen Bull. Fight the good fight, The Cribs, ...fight the good fight. We'll be there watching.

LiLa, The Bronzed Chorus @ The Pinhook Wednesday 6/13
LiLa's indy beats are fresher that Juan Valdez' own cup of morning coffee. LiLa is infectiously hip and their performances motivate entire audiences into dance frenzy. Witness what the Durham underground hip hop scene looks like.

Triangle Rhysing: Music for Massed Guitars @ Nightlight Thursday 6/14
All I know about this is that 30 members of my favorite local bands were asked to bring their guitar, an amp, and a distortion pedal. Included are guitar players from Beloved Binge, Battle Rockets, Once and Future Kings, Horseback, Veronique Diabolique, Boat Burning...be ready for a wall of sound.

Magnolia Collective, Driftwood @ Local 506 Friday 6/15
Magnolia Collective and Driftwood redux their Americana proper down home folk rock show which we first loved when the two bands met on stage earlier this Spring at Motorco. Pennsylvania's driftwood is best known for their sweetly spun stories of the bygone era, but its the emotional violin of Claire Byrne that does most of the singing. Magnolia Collective represents their home town well with catchy pop rhythms reproduced for a cooler crowd on folk rock instruments.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Album: Risk Whalen - Whaler's Ink

Risk Walen Waler's Ink

A lo-fi charmer from Risk Walen will be here tomorrow, June 1st. Titled Whaler's Ink, the album is a dozen tracks cut on a farm in Efland, NC with a barn serving as the control room and the reverb found in an empty grain silo as the only effects processing. With feelings as calm and serene as the album's rustic backdrop summarizing my listen, the purpose for such a stripped down production became apparent; Katharine Whalen's uniquely powerful voice commands its own attention. A studio with compressors, limiters, lasers, and equalizers would be a distraction.

Softly raspen and delicately enchanting, Whalen remains gently aloft in a breeze of lullabies throughout the majority of the album. Acoustic guitar and cautious percussion flow just out of reach but no less aware of their role, and give the vocals a stream to drift upon. Stand out tracks are "Rabbit King" which is first to introduce Whalen's unique vocal and serves as vanguard for the aesthetic of the recording. And, "Bend Me a Line" which is a heart-breakingly conscious image of the quiet tragedy that scorned love can leave in its wake.

The album rounds itself out with a few folk stompers chanted in Brian Risk's baritone, and an equal number of instrumentals whose softly strummed melodies may still be ghosting around the limestone bricks of the silo where they were recorded. --Carrboro Ninja

listen to: "Bend Me a Line"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Album: The Pinkerton Raid - The Pinkerton Raid


The Pinkerton Raid's new self-titled album is a fused offering of modern soft pop indie and the gritty blues rock that was pop circa 1970 on the British underground scene. With hands in pockets and eyes sullenly fixed on the ground to its feet, The Pinkerton Raid is guided along its path by the echoes of electric guitar, rhythms of a delightful piano, and a chorus of harmonies wisping through the tree tops above. Leaving from the darkened urgency of opener "Santa Rosa", feeling its way through the psychedelic space of the midland tracks, and arriving at the heart felt sensitivity of the last song, "Lullaby, Butterfly"...The Pinkerton Raid knows when to walk and when to run. Exercising the arrangements of a music store's worth of instrumentation, these songs make their way with a lope and a trot, then a stop and a charge.

Most of the album is notably solemn and range from pure ballad (e.g. "Could You Wait") to the downright Floyd-ish "Piano Queen"...but one is an escape artist. "Life of the Party" unbinds itself from the album's somber reflective tone to reveal depth in the form of a magically fun pop tune. "Life of the Party" recounts why we love the weekend with a dancey story of a dinner party crowded with those joyously half inebriated and delightfully drinking the rest of the way there. As it was also my personal favorite of the collection, I was inspired to nearly having the next such party of my own planned and anticipated by the song's 4:00 mark. On an album with so much variety it was refreshing yet not surprising that the stand-out track was molecularly different than the rest, but take not my word for it...stream the album and see which takes you the furthest; stream it here

The Pinkerton Raid releases The Pinkerton Raid this Saturday May 26th with a performance at The Casgah in Durham with sweet folky pop sweet Birds and Arrows, and softly seductive Ashville pop act Stephaniesid. --Carrboro Ninja

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Track: "A Shallow Madness" - Lilac Shadows

The title track released from the upcoming Shallow Madness EP casts Lilac Shadows into a universe where the spectrum is 8 bit synth, color vibrates the airwaves, and thoughts are communicated through texture. Bridging the languages of here and there, prettiness becomes a medium with whom "A Shallow Madness" emotes clearly. What may be translated however, is an overshot into the sparkle of unrecognizable gems, the wonder of incalculable movement, and the gleam of lucidity lit just beyond a haze of obscurity. But just before starry eyes fall to trance, there is a guitar. Chiming a universal language and giving reason to the unknown, it repeats it's message with bell like clarity until smiles are found sharing their interpretations with head nods.

Lilac Shadows is Sam Logan, Derek Torres, and Karen Blanco all of T0W3RS, and Zack Oden from Annuals. With their textures well formed and their sense of place purposefully ambiguous, the experimental has long since been beyond the test phase for this cast and "A Shallow Madness" seems a comfortable suspension in animation for them. The Shallow Madness EP will transcend the ether and enter the physical realm on cassette March 31st, with a release party hosted by DiggUp Tapes later that night at Kings on Martin St in Raleigh, NC. --Carrboro Ninja

listen what i'm talkin bout: A Shallow Madness

Thursday, February 2, 2012

jphono1 - Living is Easy

jphono1 Living is Easy

John Harrison's arts is always a mind expanding challenge to convention and these forty pages of art and nine tracks of atmospheric acoustic pop found bound by a single release titled Living is Easy...is the sort of collapsed dichotomy between art and life that John's audience is conditioned to expect from his studio. Known for twisting the heaviest and darkest sounds from a synthesizer in his mainstay electronic rock group North Elementary, John takes a lighter more experimental approach to the same machine on this solo effort jphono1. Throughout the album, there is an acoustic guitar, John's whimsically philosophical voice, and a synth zipping, zapping, and echoing in playfully thoughtful arrangements. The occasional looped atmospheric sound of birds chirping or stars shooting promotes a bridge between the two mediums of Living is Easy, which are sound and print. Graphic artist Regina McCoy chose from a pallet of art works, images captured during times of the album's creation, and lyrics scribbled on scratch paper to frame up Living is Easy the book, and each page within it offers a rich and delectable dive into the colorful life of the artist.

The commission can be per-ordered right now for $12 book and $5 CD (which is mind numbingly cheap for an effort of this quality) and shipping will begin on or around Feb 7. The entire album is available for streaming and/or download at the artist's website jphono1 as of right now also. To kick things off, a massive album/art release party is on the books for February 16th at The Cave in Chapel Hill. The party will begin at 7 PM and will feature 30 minute sets by nine performers beginning with Mark Edwards and ending with Chapel Hill folk rock darlings Magnolia Collective. Sara Bell of Regina Hexaphone, Neven Carswell of Wembley, and Inspector 22 are among the performers billed. Join the facebook event.

--Carrboro Ninja

images from "Living is Easy" the book
jphono1 Living is Easy
jphono1 Living is Easy
jphono1 Living is Easy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Some Army Debut 7"


The debut Some Army 7" is a gentle lover with a forgiving embrace. Arrangements are subtle, choruses and harmonies distant, and drums beat so as not to disturb. Its opener "Servant Tires" lulls to sleep with four minutes worth of bedroom eyes and its closer "Fallen On Your Sword" beckons them back awake with just as much sensitivity. A forty second long instrumental dream scape of lush synth keys and ethereal harmonies makes up the middle. All three tracks are reasons to fall in love. On this debut, lead singer Russell Baggett holds candied melodies in his hands and gently blows them to the wind...picked up and carried away by evanescent guitar rubbed with just enough grit to dial Some Army into the Indy rock genre, yet softened enough to keep them pop. --Carrboro Ninja

Servant Tires

post script

Some Army will perform songs from their debut 7" Friday 1/13 at Local 506 with Fan Modine; a pop inspired rock outfit with a taste for bouncy rhythms and vintage esthetics...and Prypyat which is a time capsule to sixties French pop brought to us via deft classical guitar plucking by Duncan Webster (Hammer No More The Fingers) and the deep stretchy cello of Leah Gibson (Lost in the Trees). Doors 9pm, $8.

screen print by Steve Oliva / Kitchen Island Show Prints